9 Traditional Foods & Drinks to Try in Brazil
Brazil has it all--vibrant culture, amazing nightlife, gorgeous coastlines, and tasty foods and drinks. You will leave this sensational country with your mind, body, and spirit full. Here are 9 Brazilian foods and drinks to try while in Brazil.
Small disclaimer: food with an asterisk next to it indicates that I wasn't able to try it during my recent trip, but that it was highly recommended by locals!
Barbecue at a Rodizio Churrascaria
If you're a meat-eater, Churrascaria (barbecue) in Brazil is a must. A rodizio is a Brazilian restaurant with an all-you-can-eat style service. You pay a fixed price, and servers bring samples of food to you several times throughout the meal, until you signal you are about to pop and can't eat anymore. In a rodizio churrascaria, waiters come to your table with different cuts of meat on skewers, which they cut off for you at the table. You can expect to eat a variety of local cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and occasionally exotic meats.
Servers also bring around palate cleansers between courses. My favorite was the grilled-pineapple with cinnamon. I love both pineapple and cinnamon and couldn't believe this was my first time tasting the two together. The side dishes to accompany your meat are self-serve and set up buffet style. The best part was that this meal cost us $16.69! This type of experience in the U.S. would easily be 3x that amount.
Acarajé is one of the most iconic foods of traditional Brazil cuisine, especially popular in Salvador da Bahia. In addition to being a street food, acarajé is also used as a religious offering to the gods in the Candomblé religion. It is a black-eyed pea fritter deep-fried in palm oil and stuffed with shrimp, peppers, and tomatoes. It has a bold distinctive flavor.
The açaí berry is a super fruit from the Amazon praised for its many health benefits and delicious taste and can be found practically everywhere in Brazil. Açaí was traditionally eaten by indigenous tribes for energy. Açaí bowls look very similar to ice cream and you can add different fruit and granola toppings to it. Strawberries were my go-to topping for my açaí bowls.
Feijoada is a hearty black bean stew with beef and pork. Traditional feijoada usually has inexpensive cuts of meat, such as beef tongue and pig's ears, feet, and tails. The stew is served with rice, sautéed collard greens, and orange slices and covered with toasted cassava flour. You can find this at most food places in Brazil. Saturday is known as the day of feijoada. More than a meal, it's time to fellowship with family and friends.
The brigadeiro is the national truffle of Brazil. It is made from condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter. Traditionally, the truffle is layered to perfection with chocolate sprinkles. However, as the treat became trendy, different kinds of brigadeiro were created with flavors like lime, passion fruit, pistachio, white chocolate, and Nutella. The original and specialty flavors can be found at brigadeiro shops throughout Brazil. Brigadeiro is a birthday party essential in Brazilian households.
Moqueca is a fish stew that has diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, and coriander ,served in a piping hot clay pot. Moqueca has roots in both Bahia (Northeast Brazil) and Espirito Santo (Southeast of Brazil), resulting in two tasty variations--moqueca bahiana and moqueca capixaba. The Baianos version is heavier, as its made with dendê (palm oil), peppers, and coconut milk.. The Capixabas include urucum (annatto seeds), which produce a natural red food coloring.
Created in the 1500s, cachaça is hard liquor produced from fermented sugarcane juice. There are thousands of variations of cachaça, all golden and aged in wood barrels. They are typically sipped as a shot. One of the local friends we made took us to Casa da Cachaça aka Bar Cachaça, located in the heart of the Lapa neighborhood in Rio. It's a tiny basic bar, but it's popular among the locals because it has over 100 brands of cachaça.
The caipirinha is Brazil's national cocktail, featuring cachaça, sugar, and lime. While you can buy caipirinhas practically everywhere in Brazil, I found that the best and cheapest ($1.50-$3) caipirinha were on the streets of the Lapa neighborhood. My favorite was the passionfruit caipirinha.
It was extremely hot when we visited Brazil in December and we did a lot of walking around. Between the restaurants and street vendors, it was nice to have an abundance of fresh juice options to keep us hydrated and energized. My favorite was the coconut lime juice.
The comforting and vibrant nature of food and drink in Brazil is a reflection of its rich culture. Do you love Brazilian cuisine? What's your favorite dish?
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